Brice Catherin, a cellist and a composer exploring the notion of the one-man-band concept, commissioned this work; this composition was subsequently the result of our collaboration. My aim has been to create a work where the cellist produces sounds using his full body: his hands (employing a variety of extended techniques on the cello and external objects), his feet, his mouth (singing and playing the harmonica and flexible tube) and even his face on one occasion to muffle the strings.
There are two central themes in the work: virtuosity and theatre, both strong, frequent features of my compositional oeuvre. After several meetings and experimentation with Brice, I chose a setup that enhances the musical scope without visually cluttering the stage. I am also using a rather unusual scordatura that not only changes the timbre of the instrument itself, but also helps create unique soundscapes that blend together with the sounds from the spring drums, the human voice (whistling, groans and other effects), a singing bowl, a harmonica and a flexible tube among others.
The work is entitled Emmelia and there are two reasons for this: Emmelia derives from the prefix en (in) and the noun melos (harmony), thus meaning in harmony. The composition is structured and developed in clearly defined sections (noisy, harmonious, distorted, etc.), based on information revealed by a spectral analysis of an F1 spectrum on the cello (tuned a fifth below low C), played and recorded using a variety of attacks and triggering objects and methods. Emmelia is also the name of my baby daughter, who has been my constant inspiration since she was born.